The drive from Phoenix to Sedona may just be one of the prettiest in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be making the trek and its your first visit, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
The drive is just 2 short hours, but you’ll be met with some of the most stunning desert landscapes you’ve ever seen.
While the iconic red rock formations steal the show as you near the outskirts of Sedona, there is still plenty to see along the way.
If you’re up for a little adventure on your Phoenix to Sedona road trip, you don’t want to miss the stops below.
The Ultimate Phoenix to Sedona Road Trip Itinerary
Since you’re starting out in Phoenix, I’ll assume you’ve already had some time to enjoy the city.
If not, and you’re looking for things to do in Phoenix don’t miss the Wrigley Mansion, the Heard Musuem, Japanese Friendship Garden, or the local hikes and wine tasting.
After you’ve finished exploring Phoenix, plan to get an early start on your Phoenix to Sedona road trip. You’ve got lots to see.
How to get from Phoenix to Sedona
Sedona is located about 2 hours north of Phoenix if you drive straight without stopping. From Phoenix airport to Sedona the drive is also about 2 hours.
If you make all 6 stops listed below, the drive itself will take 3 hours and 50 minutes but I promise the stops are worth it.
If one of these stops doesn’t sound fun to you, just skip it. In my opinion, I would not skip Montezuma Castle National Monument or Jerome.
While Jerome is a little out of the way, it’s definitely worth it. Jerome is awesome, you’ll see.
Stop 1: Lake Pleasant Regional Park
Lake Pleasant is a large public park just north of Phoenix. It’s about 45 minutes north of downtown off Interstate 17.
I recommend a short stop at Lake Pleasant because its a beautiful park, but also because its a great opportunity to get in a little exercise before your road trip. The park has several trails and walking paths for you to choose from.
For those looking to stick around and enjoy the park for a while, you can also enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and even SCUBA diving. There are also places to camp or have a picnic.
Arrive early to avoid the heat and the crowds.
Time for stop: 1 hour
Stop 2: Black Canyon City
Black Canyon City is a former Old West town from the 1800s located about 40 minutes north of Lake Pleasant. It’s a good stop if you’re looking to grab something to eat or take a quick break from the road.
If you’ve got your mountain bike with you, consider checking out the Black Canyon Trail. This is an 80 plus mile mountain biking trail running through the sonoran desert. The trail is a former route used by Native American travelers and traders.
To be completely honest, I visited Black Canyon City on my recent drive from Phoenix to Sedona and wasn’t all that impressed. I did spot a cow eating grass on the edge of the road though, which was the highlight of my drive through the town.
Time for stop: 15 minutes if just driving through.
Stop 3: Agua Fria National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument is a large nature preserve covering 113 square miles. Visitors to Agua Fria can see over 450 Native American structures including large pueblos and petroglyphs.
Agua Fria is also home to two mesas and the Agua Fria river and canyon. The preserve is home to an abundance of wildlife incuding bobcats, coyotes, mule deer, javelina, and a whole bunch of other small critters, reptiles and birds.
At Agua Fria you can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. There are also camping and picnic spots available.
Agua Fria is located off Interstate 17 about 20 minutes north of Black Canyon City.
Time for stop: 30 minutes to one hour.
Stop 4: Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument was one of my favorite stops on the way up to Sedona. Visitors to the monument can view pre-Colombian cliffside dwellings built into a limestone cliff (pictured above).
The dwellings date back to 1100 to 1425 AD. The main dwelling shown above was five stories with 45 to 60 rooms. Even more impressive is that it was constructed over the course of three centuries.
There is also a gift shop and several exhibits located in the visitor center where you can learn more about Montezuma Castle and the people who lived there. Short guided tours are also available.
Montezuma Castle is located off Interstate 17 about 45 minutes north of Agua Fria National Monument.
Time for stop: 30 minutes
Stop 5: Jerome
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Jerome is awesome.
The town of Jerome is famous for being designated the largest ghost town in America. It was also a roaring copper mining town in the 1920s and 1930s. Unfortunately, due to decreased demand for copper, the Phelps Dodge Mine closed in 1953, taking most of the city’s jobs along with it.
Today, Jerome is a beautiful hillside tourist town home to musicians, artists, and shop owners. Visitors will enjoy exploring the small downtown where you can find boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars.
Before you leave, be sure to stop at the haunted Jerome Grand Hotel. You can’t miss it, the famous hotel sits at the very top of the hill. Ghost tours are available to hotel guests, inquire in advance.
Jerome is located 45 minutes west of Montezuma Castle National Monument.
Time for stop: 1 hour
Stop 6: Verde Valley Wine Trail
For your wine tasting pleasure, the Verde Valley Wine Trail is located 20 minutes east of Jerome in Cottonwood.
Make your way to Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood and you’ll be walking distance to all six wineries and tasting rooms located in town. Wine tasting has never been easier, seriously.
Here is a list of the six wineries you’ll find in Cottonwood.
- Burning Tree Cellars
- Arizona Stronghold
- Pillsbury Wine Company
- Winery 101
- Fire Mountain Wines: This one may be permanently closed. Will update here soon.
- Merkin Wineyards Osteria
I haven’t been to these wineries but did visit Page Springs Cellars, which is a bit closer to Sedona and loved it.
But, if I were visiting agian, I would hit up two to three of the wineries at the top of this list based on what looks cool when I walk by (Yes, I’m suggesting you pick a winery based on how it looks from the outside. I’m not a somelier over here so I aim for ambiance.)
Then, I would visit Merkin Vineyards Osteria last because I’m a sucker for authentic Italian. Plus, it would be a good idea to soak up all that wine before driving into Sedona.
Time for stop: 1 hour (or as much time as you need).
Final Destination: Sedona
After you’ve finished up on the Verde Valley Wine Trail, make your way to your final destination in Sedona. Once you’re settled in, there are a million ways to enjoy a day in Sedona.
If this is your first visit don’t miss Chapel of the Holy Cross, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Slide Rock State Park, Oak Creek Canyon, or the pink jeep tours.
My personal favorite stops are Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon. Bell Rock is perfect for an early morning hike or to enjoy stargazing late at night. Bring your camera to get pictures of those beautiful red rocks.
Oak Creek Canyon is sort of a mini Grand Canyon (very mini), but its incredibly beautiful.
Sedona is about 20 minutes northeast of Cottonwood.
I hope you’ve found this Phoenix to Sedona Road Trip Itinerary useful in planning a trip of your own. If you’d like to support this blog please consider sharing this post. As always, thanks for reading.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the drive from Phoenix to Sedona safe? Yes, I found it to be very safe. Interstate 17 is a pretty straight shot up to Sedona, so the drive is not complicated.
- Can I rent a car? Yes, you can make a Phoenix to Sedona car rental reservation and pick up your car from the airport.
- How can I get to Sedona without a car? From the airport there is a Phoenix to Sedona shuttle service. Advanced reservations are required.
- What is the distance from Phoenix to Sedona? 117 miles, or about 2 hours.
- What is the distance from Phoenix to Flagstaff? 144 miles, or about 2 hours 10 minutes.
- Can you fly from Phonix to Sedona? Yes. If you’re rich, you can charter a small plane and fly to Sedona. I have no idea how much this costs.
If you have any other questions, head over to my contact page and send me a message.
Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help busy people find creative ways to travel more.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to supporting this site.